Authors and novels recommendations for improving writing craft?
April 1, 2015 9:16 PM   Subscribe

I have always been fond of writing poetry, but lately I seem to want to expand my writing craft towards short stories. I think the most notable clincher for writers to improve their overall craft is simply by reading voraciously; with an eclectic wide range of authors and literary works. What are some wonderful literary works, authors, playwrights, short stories, non-fiction, fantasy work, et cetera. Can you recommend for me? To further my own voice and writing craft.

I seem to have a knack for writing poetry and university essays, but I wish to advance my craft for writing short stories overall. Are there any eloquent and crafted writers you would recommend for a novice writer to read? Classic and Contemporary works will do just fine. I seem to favor Irish writers and poets for some reason, so if you have any authors that write with the cultural knowledge and landscape of Ireland, fire away. I have read Lolita and The Picture of Dorian Gray, which seems to have helped with my short story writing. I'm Canadian, so I would love to read more about First Nations' literary works as well. I love reading stories from a foreign cultural perspective, since it can help build my critical thinking and place a fresh perspective through someone's live-hood.

I have been told to read more on Wilde, Thoreau, and Capote, so perhaps I'll scout for more of their works after the semester ends. I'm keen on fantasy, but I find that most fantasy prose is not very crafted or deemed has 'high literature' if that makes any sense.

Note: If you have any introspective wealthy advice, feel free to share and contribute. I'm open for all perspectives and what has worked and shaped your writing journey.

Rear Window
posted by RearWindow to Education (9 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Reading Like a Writer has both inspiration and some practical advice.

If you're interested in Irish stories, The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story. You can read James Joyce's Dubliners online. The Art of the Story is a diverse collection of international fiction and has been used in many writing workshops.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:56 PM on April 1, 2015

Stephen King, "On Writing."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:04 PM on April 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Gene Wolfe is a great literary stylist working in the fantasy / SF area. You could try Castle of Days which brings together Gene Wolfe's Book of Days (a collection of short stories) with The Castle of the Otter (essays on writing and the background to one of his major works - The Book of the New Sun).
posted by crocomancer at 2:30 AM on April 2, 2015

This essay will be of great help to you.

For sheer mastery of the form, I always turn to Ernest Hemingway and Saki.
posted by bryon at 3:48 AM on April 2, 2015

If you're Canadian, you probably already know Alice Munro, but definitely her - many would say she's the greatest living practitioner of the short story form.

For 'voice,' Lorrie Moore. "Birds of America" is a classic collection for a reason.

To see just what kind of shapes and forms a short story can take on, Lydia Davis (I recommend randomly dipping into the giant, neon-orange collected, or her latest, which is not in the collected, "Can't and Won't").

Mavis Gallant.
posted by erlking at 5:56 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

YMMV, obviously, but personally I find Nabokov off-putting when crafting my own writing style. I'm a longtime Nabokov fangirl, but I get intimidated and frustrated, thinking "oh brother, I'll never be that good, why do I even try?!"

Someone more like Lorrie Moore, who tends to write in plainer language but still with beauty, and stories that are crafted well, tends to be more helpful to me personally.

I enjoy Finding a Form, a book of essays by William H. Gass, for pointers and perspectives on craft and voice. He's pretty curmudgeonly, but he's earned the right to be curmudgeonly.
posted by witchen at 8:08 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Issac Asimov's Gold is a great read. First half is short stories, but the second half is all about the craft of writing broken out by topic.
posted by dr_dank at 9:16 AM on April 2, 2015

Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird," for the craft; and my favorite short story writer is William Trevor, followed closely by Tobias Wolff and Wells Tower.
posted by mmiddle at 11:36 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I try my best to write like TC Boyle's short stories but I never get anywhere close. He can be a bit hit and miss, even for a fan like me, but when he nails it - it's special.

Also, seconding Bird by Bird AND On Writing.
posted by Merinda at 1:19 PM on April 2, 2015

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